Our Two Deepest Challenges

Our Two Deepest Challenges

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

When they asked Him which was the greatest commandment, Jesus surprised them by going outside the Ten Commandments and selecting the two biggest challenges every man or woman everywhere has: Love for God and love for their fellow man. We have proof that these two still challenge us.

Consider the hit single written by Burt Bacharach and performed in 1965 by Jackie DeShannon: “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” According to the song, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. Two years later the Beatles agreed, releasing “All You Need Is Love.”

Want more proof? Note how the USA is gradually abandoning love and respect for God. In 1962 school-sponsored prayer was banned in public schools. I agree that public schools have no business sponsoring prayer. I wouldn’t want my grandchildren forced to participate in prayer that was directed to another god. But since then even individual prayer has become unacceptable. Students can talk to their teachers. They can talk to their friends. They can even call their parents. But they’re not allowed to talk to God.

Also note that there is a constant, if not belligerent push to remove God from our coinage and currency. “In God we (no longer) Trust?”

This departure is so sad. Did you see the bumper-sticker: “Far from God? Who moved?” King Solomon said it best: The fear (respect) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). I sure wish our people would become wiser! Listening to His counsel would change and sweeten society’s atmosphere.

Also, isn’t it evident that love for people is diminishing in our streets? Remember that poor young man in Portland, Adam Haner. Last month he was pulled from his truck and pummeled into near unconsciousness. As he sat there, dazed, a protester, Marquise Love, came up from behind and delivered a round-house kick to Haner’s head, knocking him unconscious.

This was one isolated event in a time of heightened emotions. I know that people on “both sides” have grievances. But aren’t there better, more productive ways to resolve them than by “kicking” the people with whom we disagree? No injustice that one might ever suffer justifies acting savagely toward another human. Torching, pillaging, and other acts of vandalism do not express love in any way. This is true of every person in every dispute, no matter how blatant the offence. Loving one’s fellow human will remove any response that doesn’t reflect the dignity and value of human life.

But the solution has a deep challenge: What if the other person doesn’t act/behave out of love? I see two choices here: Respond in kind and escalate the situation; or treat him/her as you want to be treated and expect de-escalation. Love dictates a response that is NOT from the anger of feeling wronged BUT from the desire to reduce hostility and find solutions. Love says: “Someone must absorb the wrong without retaliation for peace to have a chance. I will do it.” It’s always a choice.

What can we do? First, since this kind of love is based upon the intrinsic value of the focus of our love, whether God or fellow man, we need to know their worth. In His parental concern for us, God left us a written record of His efforts throughout history to rescue us from ourselves, the Bible. Read it. The more we know, the more substance we will have on which to make informed decisions. And seeing in it how precious people are to Him also informs our attitudes toward and ability to love people. Treat them like we want to be treated is a great measuring stick. Adam Haner would not have been kicked if Marquise Love had used this guideline. An honest, piercing look through the other’s eyes will give us the insight necessary to love them as ourselves.

Love is all we need. But it will take a lot of self-awareness and determined focus to show it. Are you up to it? Be part of the solution; not part of the problem.

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